Universal Credit

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she has made an estimate of the number of claimants of universal credit that have fallen into (a) council tax and (b) local authority rent arrears after transitioning from legacy benefits.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

We have not made an assessment of this nature, we do not hold the data requested for council tax arrears and any change in rent arrears is not solely attributed to Universal Credit.

The initial analytical work we have carried out with a single housing provider suggests that many tenants are arriving on Universal Credit with pre-existing rent arrears, supporting research carried out by the National Federation of ALMOs which shows over three quarters of their tenants come onto Universal Credit with pre-existing rent arrears. It also shows that arrears tend to increase prior to making a claim for Universal Credit, and that Universal Credit actually appears to be helping to clear arrears over time. We are currently extending this analysis to include a number of housing providers. It will be published when completed.

We have responded to concerns in this area by putting a number of safeguards in place – 100 per cent advances repayable over 12 months, increasing to 16 months in October 2021; a two-week transition to Universal Credit Housing Payment; a new Help to Claim service; and Managed Payment to Landlord Arrangements, which allow for payments direct to the landlord if the tenant is likely to have difficulty in managing their rent payments, is unlikely to pay their rent or is in rent arrears equivalent to two months.

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